It's Really Not About MOM vs. MES: Defining the Space

MOM vs. MESAs technology, particularly in the manufacturing enterprise software category, develops and matures, the framework for its application and surrounding discussion is shaped by those at the forefront of its use and development. Put simply, these words and terms are alive and subject to change. New technologies and terms are always being introduced. Some of these new terms quickly fade. Others evolve over time to take on expanded meanings.

Such is the case with the by now well-known manufacturing terms Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). There are some differences of opinion that exist in the marketplace on how these terms are defined and how they fit into the context of discussions on manufacturing applications and processes.

As the first post of an educational series on the larger MOM application space and the many process and software acronyms that fall under its umbrella, in this post we’ll provide clarity to how LNS Research approaches the MOM and MES terms and how BOTH fit into the overall manufacturing enterprise.

Sifting Through the Semantics

An important part of the MOM vs. MES debate has less to do with technology than it does language use. In this arena, the opinion of an English major may be of more value than the most thorough analyst. A key distinction here is whether we’re talking about a manufacturing application space in service of manufacturing processes or terminology for a specific software package or solution. In many MOM/MES discussions, sometimes these key definitional aspects are obscured or intermingled, which is part of what leads to confusion.

At LNS Research, when we broadly discuss MOM we are referring to an application space, not a name for any single specific software package or solution. Indeed, the key letter of this acronym is the final “M”—Management, a verb under which many more specific business processes and their associated software applications fall.

Overview of Manufacturing Operations Management Framework       

MOM Business Process ViewBuilt on the ISA-95 standard definitions for integrating business and manufacturing activities, along with a few important additions based on working with manufacturers, above you can see how LNS Research's interpretation of the MOM process framework forms the levels for interconnecting enterprise business processes, to manufacturing operations processes and automation processes. Color coding of the major business and manufacturing process linkages is used to show the interrelationships that typically exist in a manufacturing enterprise. 

MOM Software ApplicationsThe application view of the MOM framework encompasses the broad set of software applications and functionalities that support the entire continuum of business, manufacturing, and automation process activities pictured in the previous process view. The MOM level applications are grouped into 10 major areas that are color-coded with the typical enterprise business system integration points.

So Where Does MES Fit In?

First used in the 1990s, MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) was the term that grabbed the torch from Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), coined in the late 1980s. MES began it's prominence during a time before the overwhelming adoption of ERP as the enterprise backbone, and before the related ISA standards and use of manufacturing operations management terminology was in place. Over time, as these standards were being developed and the framework for more expansive and detailed business processes and applications was being laid-out, the definition of MES shifted to a more specific set of application functionalities, with the core being Production Execution and Tracking.

It is very important to note here the influence of the vendor community. While some of the industry has moved forward in the use of MOM terminology, there are many vendors that still have great success marketing manufacturing software solutions under the “MES” term. These MES software packages have varying coverage of the application functionalities included in the MOM infographic above.

Similarly, there are also vendors with manufacturing software offerings and application capabilities that are marketing solutions under the “MOM” term, which adds to the confusion, and the view that MOM and MES are interchangeable terms. From a marketing perspective, perhaps there’s truth to this. But when defining business to manufacturing processes and the software application spaces that surround them, these terms are not synonyms from our viewpoint.

You'll see LNS Research consistently refer to this set of applications as MOM applications. We are not opposed to the MES term, but if we use this term, generally it will be in reference to a specific vendor's offering that has appropriate functionality and is named accordingly.  

Diving Deeper into MOM and MES

In the subsequent posts of this blog series, we’ll be diving into some of the specific applications comprised within the MOM application space, such as Planning, Scheduling & Dispatching, Document Management, Historian & Reporting applications, EMI, LIMS, SPC/SQC, and others.

Also, regardless of whether an integrated suite of applications are referred to as MOM or MES, there are many vendors in the space that are advancing offerings to include more and more coverage of this entire functionality, along with the emerging mega-trends like mobile, big data, and cloud capabilities. For a detailed breakdown of 20 of the top vendors in the space, be sure to click below for your fee copy of the LNS Research MOM Solution Selection Guide.

What are your thoughts on MOM vs. MES? Keep this discussion going in the comments section below or tweet to us with the hashtag #MOMvsMES.

Manufacturing Operations Management Solution Selection Guide Download

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

Subscribe Now

Become an LNS Research Member!

As a member-level partner of LNS Research, you will receive our expert and proven Advisory Services. These exclusive benefits give your team:

  • Regular advisory sessions with our highly experienced LNS Research Analysts
  • Access to the complete LNS Research Library
  • Participation in members-only executive Roundtable events
  • Important, continuous knowledge of Industrial Transformation (IX)

Let us help you with key decisions based on our solid research methodology and vast industrial experience. 


Similar posts


Stay on top of the latest industrial transformation insights from our expert analysts

The Industrial Transformation and Operational Excellence Blog is an informal environment for our analysts to share thoughts and insights on a range of technology and business topics.